Rigi's Journey to Product Market Fit

June 16, 2022
“When you’re trying to identify your PMF, it is best to have a mix of both instinct and a good data tracking system integrated into the platform you're building” Rigi’s Swapnil Saurav

It is rare to find founders who, within four months into their journey, land on a product matket fit, and Swapnil Saurav, founder of RIGI is one of them. Having identified a gap within the influencer community of his previous gaming platform, HalaPlay, Swapnil, and his co-founder Ananya started RIGI in late 2021.

A mix of data-centric approach and instinct is a must-have to find a product-market fit this early into the business, says the founder. It has been seven months since RIGI’s foundation and the young entrepreneur has already embarked on the next level of his journey.

Swapnil and I met (virtually) for a rather interesting discussion on how to track your PMF. In the process, we also talked about his process of identifying prospect consumers, how the focus shifts on reaching PMF, and more.

What is Rigi all about? What are you trying to solve through this online platform?

There is a large pool of influencers out there with in-demand skills that they want to monetize on, but are finding it challenging to pull off on platforms like WhatsApp or Telegram. This is because the process requires tremendous manual work.

We are trying to build an app for Influencers where they can manage, grow and monetize their user community seamlessly and without the presence of competition.

Would you say that arriving at PMF is particularly challenging in your industry? How did you identify yours?

Speaking of the industry, identifying PMF can get tricky as it is intricately related to monetization.

Usually, with the term influencer, the picture that comes to our minds is that of a food and music-related influencer or a fashionista with around 100K followers. Unfortunately, we found that in India, the volume of people who are ready to pay for their content is extremely poor at the moment.

So, we decided to modify our market strategy that could fit influencers belonging to other verticals like the financial market, Edtech, and gaming industry. We then gathered hints of user behavior that indicated their willingness to pay in return for the influencer's rich content. The number of people exhibiting this behavior was considerably high and the influencers were able to monetize it. We locked our strategy on targeting a set of influencers who were primarily more active on Telegram and WhatsApp rather than YouTube, Instagram, or other social media platforms.  

We often see that identifying and reaching out to prospective customers is a trial-and-error method for startups. How did you go about it for Rigi?

Since we come from the real-money gaming industry, we had a ready list of influencers who were frequently active on Telegram or WhatsApp.

As a first step, we approached a few and discussed RIGI with them before launch - mostly while we were still at the ideation stage. That’s how we became aware of the real-time problems that they were facing in the process of monetization. Gathering from the discussion, we added features on our app and returned to them with it. In a way, our end customers also helped us reach the PMF by deciding on our road map themselves.

Moreover, beginning with 30 to 40 creators initially, we’ve been growing only organically because influencers with ample following tend to have other influencers in their network as well whom we can capitalize on.

Identifying a product-market fit - is it a constantly evolving process? At what point were you sure that PMF is no longer a problem for your company?

After reaching out to about forty to fifty influencers in September and October, from the very next month we started receiving 80% more inbound requests on our platform. The metric also reflected that the retention rate of these people on our app was as high as 95% and I’m talking just eight to ten weeks into the process. That’s when it struck us that we’re past the PMF issue.

If you have a detailed tracking system for parameters like engagement, retention, and attrition, you are bound to notice early traction in those data. Maximum app usage and the rapidly increasing earnings of the influencers within a month were indications enough for us to draw from.

So, in the end, I’d say that finding PMF is not an ongoing process, but is surely one that helps you evolve strategy-wise. Tracking all your data will take you to an inflection point, whereon you don’t need to chase outbound anymore.

Did your learnings from your previous product-building experience play a vital role in leading you to the idea of RIGI?

While working on HalaPlay, the fact that many YouTube influencers tend to drive communities from their social media profiles (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook) to these groups on Telegram made us curious. For a million subscriptions on an influencer’s YouTube channel, we saw the engagement rate of these top influencers on Telegram to be higher by 30-40%.

This was basically a way out for them to gain direct and isolated access to their followers to monetize on because honestly, social media platforms come with the distraction of other influencer recommendations. So, yes, RIGI happened from the learnings of our previous product-building journey. That’s how we decided to design a platform that would offer non-algorithmic ways of engagement between influencers and their subscribers with monetization as the “hook” for influencers.

As far as influencers are concerned, are you targeting specific industries or working across verticals?

As of now, most of our primary users are from the commerce and edtech industries, but we plan to work across markets for sure in the future. We’re actually building two products. On RIGI, content creators will be able to create and monetize on their follower community. Our second product, on the other hand, will automate paid Telegram and WhatsApp groups for all influencers. Through this, we intend to eradicate the pain of handling these groups manually.

As a founder yourself, how do you think a company’s focus changes, in terms of before and after reaching PMF?

The before PMF scenario is that of aggressive experimentation - you’re probably running five to six different ideas simultaneously to figure out what works and what doesn’t. After PMF, this is more focused.

Suppose you’ve launched your app with five features and you notice that the traction on two of those features is way better than the remaining three. So, with hitting a PMF, you shift all your focus to those two features and grow on them.

Are there any pro-tips on PMF that you’d like to offer to all the young and upcoming entrepreneurs out there?

As a consumer-tech company, we initially went with our instincts to figure out the hook for our end customers. Ideally, I’d say that it is best to have a mix of both instinct and a good data tracking system on the platform when you’re trying to come to a PMF. 

What is your take on the overall Accel Atoms experience and why would you recommend this program to aspiring founders?

Our overall experience at Accel was very rich. There are two specific things about the program that will surely make sense to all my fellow and aspiring entrepreneurs. One is that you get access to some of the top mentors across industries from which you can choose who you want your mentor to be.

The second major learning from the 100-day journey was the cohort itself with our fifteen peer startups. It is really hard to find people who are at the same stage of the business as you are. We were lucky to have that space in Accel Atoms. The exchanges of experiences that happen when you’re in a group can add much value to your entrepreneurship journey, in terms of an idea or problem-solving.

That’s the most noteworthy aspect about the program - it isn’t your journey alone, but the journey of fifteen startups, together.

Applications for Atoms’ Holi cohort are open!

If you are a very early stage startup, we are waiting for you to apply. Atoms is meant for you. All late applications will be considered until March 30th.

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